I was just going through my Kindle perusing the books that are awaiting my attention (I have piles of unread electronic and print books that I cannot wait to get to) when I saw one titled The Map That Changed the World by Simon Winchester.
To be honest, I'd completely forgotten that that I’d downloaded this – I just bounced over to Amazon to remind myself what it’s about. In fact, this is the story of tragedy and triumph about one William ‘Strata’ Smith (1769-1839), surveyor, self-taught geologist, and maker of the first geologic map.
One reason this is of particular interest to me is that I am currently re-reading A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson (in my opinion one of the best books I’ve ever read – I’ll write a review on it when I reach the end), and I just finished the part about how the science of geology first started, which is much more interesting that you might suppose.
Another reason I’m looking forward to reading The Map That Changed the World is that I personally really like Simon Winchester’s style. One of his other books that I read a while back is called A Crack in The Edge of the World – America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906.
Now I should note that Simon’s style is not for everyone. If you look at the reviews for A Crack in The Edge of the World on Amazon, you'll see that they are a "mixed bag" – the majority of the 100+ reviews are 4-star and 5-star, but a lot of readers voted it down because the book does meander around a little bouncing from one topic to another.
I can understand why some folks may find the presentation to be not quite what they expected, because the author does not restrict himself only to an account of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake itself. Instead, he mixes geology with the commercial and social history of California; scientific data with his personal thoughts and writings from folks who lived through the event; and a whole bunch of other stuff (for example, the 1906 earthquake gave a major boost to the Pentecostal branch of Christianity).
Like I say, this style might not be for everyone, but I personally like to learn tidbits of trivia and nuggets of knowledge. This book provided a huge amount of background into the early days of California and gave me a lot of insight into the way things were... such as the way in which Chinese immigrants were treated (actually, mistreated is more accurate).
The thing is, scientists and geologists agree that there's going to be another monster seismic event on the San Andreas Fault – it's not a case of "if" – it's a question of "when". If you read this book you'll have a much better idea as to the ramifications of such an event.